Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Playoff Mess As It Stands

After tonight, the playoff (or final 4) is as muddies as it can possibly be. Ohio State, long considered as the favorite to repeat as national title winners, has fallen to Michigan State. The Spartans now control their own destiny in the Big 10, and Ohio State will fall out of the top 4. Michigan State still needs to win one more game against Penn State next week, because if they should fall, Ohio State or Michigan could claim the title for their own, as the winner of that game would finish with just one loss in Big 10 play, as the Spartans would fall to 2 losses.
In short, as it stands with the Big 10, Ohio State still could reclaim a playoff birth by beating Michigan, paired with a Michigan State loss to Penn State, and they would be playing Iowa in Indianapolis for the conference title, which brings me to the Hawkeyes. Everyone is discounting the Hawkeyes, even after they ran by Purdue today to claim the West. Iowa is now 11-0, and as of this moment, they look the best team to represent the conference in the Final 4. Iowa does not have the resume that Sparty has, but they would finish unbeaten, and if Iowa could pull a win in the Big 10 title game, and get a win next week, the Big 10 rep would be Iowa.
Big 10 Playoff Pick: Michigan State if they win out, Iowa if they do.

Let's move along to the ACC. Clemson is still ranked number one in the nation, but let's face it. That strength of schedule wasn't amazing this season. Still, when you combine our PRS Rankings, and our QWI standings (measures the quality of a win or a loss), Clemson was the third best team coming into this week, trailing only Ohio State and Oklahoma State, who both happened to lose tonight. The Tigers should cruise by South Carolina next week (lost to The Citadel today in the worst loss in school history as far as who they lost to) but still face a huge challenge when they meet North Carolina in Charlotte for the ACC title. Clemson and UNC have not met this season. If Clemson should lose either to South Carolina or North Carolina, I see them dropping out of the playoff altogether, creating another huge void.
ACC Playoff Pick: Clemson, but they have to win out.

Let us now move on to the mess known as the Big 12. The conference largely suffers from a lack of a title game, and for the issue regarding that from #5 on down, the league is just awful in 2015. The only legitimately good programs in the conference currently are Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Baylor. The rest of the league is a dumpster fire. Oklahoma controls what happens next after Oklahoma State lost to Baylor tonight. Oklahoma State, however, could take control of the situation, but they need to beat OU next week. If they do, and Baylor wins out, then Baylor would take the top spot back if they win out, which could very well happen. The entire race will come down to one thing, and that is whether OU can weather the storm and hold on to beat the Cowboys next week.
Big 12 Playoff Pick: Oklahoma, but they have to beat Oklahoma State next Saturday.

The PAC-12, in any scenario, will not be represented this season in the Final 4. Stanford blew their chance by losing to Oregon last week, giving them two losses. UCLA will play USC to decide the winner in the South, and with UCLA beating Utah, it mattered not whether or not the Trojans lost by 20 to Oregon today. It certainly doesn't help the Trojans think that they can cruise to a win over the Bruins next week, and if UCLA wins, it's their 4th straight in that series.
One thing that can happen is that Stanford could still play spoiler by beating Notre Dame, which would more than knock the Irish out of the race.
PAC-12 Playoff Pick: None...the PAC-12 was out last week.

Speaking of Notre Dame, the Irish almost laid an egg tonight against Boston College at Fenway Park in a gimmick setup that cheapened the series. Notre Dame struggled to beat offensively inept BC 19-16. With that narrow win against a team that will not be bowling this season, the Irish may have lost their tenuous at best grasp on that #4 spot when the committee votes Tuesday night.
Is Notre Dame in? Only if they beat Stanford, then they need to say their prayers.

The SEC isn't very clear either. Alabama is a consensus choice to hold on and win the SEC West, as all they have to do is beat a barely recognizable Auburn club next week. That should not be a difficult chore for the Tide, but you know Auburn will be up for the Tide. If Alabama wins, and beats Florida (who barely scraped by Vanderbilt and FAU in recent weeks) in the SEC title game, by all means, Alabama is in. If Alabama loses one or both games, they are out, and nobody in the SEC would be strong enough to make the field.
SEC Playoff Pick: Alabama, but they must win both of their final games.

Current Final 4
Alabama or Notre Dame

Of course, this could all change out next week. As Yoda would say, "Difficult to see the future is, always in motion..."

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